I had been told what to expect on this trip but nothing could truly prepare me for this experience. Today, we left the Grace House after an amazing breakfast (Morgan, my daughter, and I are loving the Kenyan food!) and traveled to Missions of Hope International (MOHI) in the Mathare Valley slums. While we were there, a member of the MOHI staff shared the history of the organization. What started with 50 students in 2004 has grown to 15,000 students and 20 schools. This amazing organization works within the community to advance education, health, the economy and spiritual growth. Raphael, who led our orientation, made a comment that was incredibly powerful to me. When talking about the influence MOHI has in the community, he said, "Christ can do nothing second rate so everything we do must also be first rate." Wouldn't it be great if everything we did was a first rate reflection of Christ?
We then walked to the Area 2 school to meet and give gifts to some of the students sponsored by White River families. Walking through the slums was overwhelming to me. We walked across open sewage and beside mountains of trash. And everywhere we walked, the faces of these beautiful children were smiling at us...in spite of their circumstances.
As we walked, we were split into groups and taken into homes to pray with community members. Sedia, a Muslim woman, welcomed us into her one room that houses her, her husband and their four children. Six people in one room...and not even a room the size of my living room but more like the size of my walk-in closet.
At the school, we were able to pass along the gifts sent with us by WRCC families to their sponsored children. Morgan and I were even able to give gifts to the little girl we've sponsored for several years. It was so fun!
She recognized us from the pictures we had sent and gave fantastic hugs! To hear her story from her directly was such a sweet privilege. All of the children took their time looking at their gifts and were so appreciative.
After that, we made our way out of the slums and back to the Grace House. We had a couple hours to relax before another delicious dinner (followed by a trip to the mall for ice cream!). As I laid on my bed processing what I had just experienced, I was moved to bittersweet tears. Yes, their circumstances are incredibly sad and hard for me to wrap my mind around, but Missions of Hope is doing such beautiful work in the midst of such sadness. And lives are being changed...I know mine was today.